Journal article Open Access

Greenspace and Gun Violence in Detroit, USA

Gregory Breetzke; Amber Pearson; Shiqi Tao; Rui Zhang

Greenspaces have long been seen as providing an escape from the stressors of urban life, yet very little is known about the extent to which greenspaces and/or their immediate surroundings may actually serve as locations for violent crime. In this study, we used location quotients to compare the extent of gun violence in greenspaces with gun violence across the entire city of Detroit, as well as compare gun violence in greenspaces with gun violence occurring within a series of buffer intervals immediately surrounding these locations. Finally, we identified whether the socio-economic characteristics of the neighborhood in which a greenspace was located increases gun violence occurrence and identify what physical characteristics of greenspaces differentiate between high and low gun violence. We found that greenspaces themselves were associated with lower levels of gun violence, compared to other locations across the city. We also found no evidence that the deprivation level of the neighborhood in which a greenspace was located significantly impacted the risk of gun violence. In terms of physical characteristics, greenspaces with higher levels of greenness and more tree cover were correlated with higher gun violence. Explanations for these findings are discussed in the context of a city unique in the United States for its history, its present and its changing future.

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